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Wilderness and Discomfort


Here at the YWAM base in Dunham, Quebec, we’re gearing up to go on a 5-day wilderness trek shrouded in mystery and secrecy. NIKO is “a five-day wilderness leadership training program where participants step out and discover more about who they are when faced with extreme challenges.” Rumors abound… sleeping under the stars (great—until it starts raining), foraging for food, long treks (we’re told, “be sure to break-in your hiking boots”), swimming in ice-cold water, and so forth. Being 63 years old, my bones and muscles are yelling, “Are you crazy! Don’t do it.”

NIKO goes hand-in-hand with a popular slogan here at the Dunham base: “Seek Discomfort.” It’s part of the “Yes Theory” movement, whose members believe that “life’s most beautiful moments and meaningful connections exist outside our comfort zones.” If you’ve explored the links I’ve provided thus far, you might think that all this is for the young. Not so!

Be Willing

Bill Eckstrom, founder and CEO of the coaching and leadership development EcSell Institute, gave a TEDx Talk entitled “Why Comfort Will Ruin Your Life,” in which he describes how he was pushed to “fulfill his calling,” much against his will, by circumstances forced upon him. Bill says we are naturally inclined to what is comfortable, a comfort which results from order. However, growth, fulfillment, and purpose arise out of complexity, which makes us uncomfortable.

“It’s order you should fear the most, because it is a threat. Order disrupting people, like Jesus, Galileo, [others are cited] have already proven [that] it’s not the complexity-triggering individuals or events you should fear the most, but it’s your own willingness to accept or seek discomfort that will dictate the growth of not just you, but our entire world.”

John the Baptist was the cause of much discomfort—so much so that Herod had him beheaded. In talking about John, Jesus asked, “What did you go into the wilderness to see?” John led people into the wilderness—to a place of discomfort—where they found new life, new purpose, and new meaning.

Most of Jesus’ ministry flowed from a place of discomfort, a place to which he calls His followers, and says, “Come, follow me.” The disciples certainly weren’t comfortable. Neither was the early church. In the same way, each of us needs to ask ourselves, “Am I too comfortable?” If the answer is yes, perhaps we need to “seek discomfort” so that we continue to grow, to fulfill the purpose for which we were created.

“Growth, fulfillment, and purpose arise out of complexity, which makes us uncomfortable.”

Filmmaking certainly is NOT comfortable. We need to get along with all sorts of people that make us uncomfortable—perhaps we make them uncomfortable as well! Filmmaking involves lots of hard work with an uncertain outcome—no one knows in advance whether or not the film will be “liked”—or whether it will have its intended influence. Filmmaking also involves a lot of repetitive, even menial activity without which the film could never be made. It’s a painful process.

What about you? Are you in a place of discomfort? If so, rejoice! If you are comfortable, and if you have been inspired to seek discomfort, perhaps the complexity of filmmaking, whether animation or live action, is tugging at your imagination.

- Hans W.

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